When Hendrix head football coach Buck Buchanan addressed the Rotary Club Thursday afternoon, he spoke about how starting a new program will shape the 54 young men who took on the challenge.
As the first football team to play for Hendrix in 53 years, these players know they have the spotlight on them, Buchanan said.
“We recruited every one of these young men saying ‘you’re going to live in a fish bowl,’” he said. “Everybody in the community is going to look at you. Everybody in Arkansas is going to look at you, and how are you going to represent us and yourself and your families from here on out.”
Buchanan said the players will be “compartmentalized in a box” based on the sport they play and the way they look.
“I’ve been that way my whole life,” he said. “My nickname is Buck Buchanan, I wear a flat top and people are going to assume that you’re not very smart. It’s just the way it is, and I was a linebacker. That all combines to having to prove people wrong most of your life.”
His players are trying to break that stereotype by sitting on the front row in class and saying “yes ma’am’ and “no sir” wherever they go.
The team’s average ACT score is 27.5, about a point under the average of the freshman class’ ACT average of 28.6. “We’ll have to fix that next year,” Buchanan said. “We don’t make the same mistakes twice,” — a philosophy he’s also implementing on the practice field.
When you have a passion for something, Buchanan said, you need to play that song to its entirety. “You’re always going to want to do what you love, and some things you get to do forever,” he said. “Football isn’t one of those things.”
Buchanan said it’s important for his players to get a good education while they’re at Hendrix, but the experiences they’re going through now will teach them a lot about life.
“We have a long way to go before we get to where we want to be, and we’re going to learn some tough lessons along the way,” he said. “Change is inevitable. We’re going to change. Hendrix is going to change.”
Buchanan asked the Rotary Club to encourage the players when they see them out in the community. Thank them for playing at Hendrix, thank them for being in Conway, he said.
“It’s not just about football and it’s not just about athletics, it’s about making the whole person which echoes the Hendrix motto “unto the whole person,” Buchanan said.
Hendrix gives no athletic scholarships. All players come to the college on academic scholarships. “The great thing about the kids we have is we’re not paying them to play,” Buchanan said. “At the end of the day, our kids really love being here.”
Hendrix plans to add 40 guys to the roster next year. The goal is to have 100-plus players in the next three or four years enough to have a junior varsity program. “We decided to start small and build big,” Buchanan said. “Our goal was to get the right players to Hendrix College.”
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)